Friday, December 8, 2023

Yahoo News: Testing of Ukrainian pilots in the United States exceeded expectations – the duration of the F-16 training was significantly reduced


Two Ukrainian pilots trained to fly Soviet-era fighters spent three weeks in the United States in March, where their abilities were assessed by experienced Air Force instructors.

In early March, two Ukrainian pilots traveled to the United States. The destination of the trip was a base located in Tucson, Arizona, and the purpose was to assess how long it would take to train pilots to operate fighter jets and other military aircraft.

In the background were Ukraine’s hopes of acquiring F-16 fighter jets from Western allies. In the West, an obstacle to the delivery of fighters has been the training of pilots, which will take at least 1.5 years, which is too long for Ukraine’s needs.

Now Yahoo News has obtained the US Air Force’s assessment report on the capabilities of the Ukrainian pilots who traveled to Arizona. According to the website, the report concludes that Ukrainians can be trained as F-16 fighter pilots in only four months, which is much faster than previously estimated.

Serhiy Holubtsov, commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, had already told the British newspaper The Times in late March that the pilots had received high marks in an assessment of their skill level.

He spent three weeks there and practiced on the F-16 simulator how to fly with two pilots simultaneously using the weapons. The results were great: Ukrainian pilots could learn to fly and operate the F-16’s weapons systems in less than six months, Holubtsov said at the time.

A document obtained by Yahoo News states that one Ukrainian pilot is trained to fly the Soviet Su-27 fighter jet and the other is trained to fly the MiG-29, also developed in the Soviet Union. Before entering the flight simulator, none of them had been given “formal training” to fly an F-16 aircraft, but had only been briefly introduced to the aircraft’s functions.

Fighter jets and the training of fighter pilots were one of the central topics when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the UK earlier this week.  At left, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Fighter jets and the training of fighter pilots were one of the central topics when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the UK earlier this week. At left, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Photo: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service / Zuma / MV Photo

In the simulator, the pilots’ skills were tested a total of nine times, with a total duration of 11.5 hours. The pilots were evaluated by four experienced US Air Force commanders, each with thousands of hours at the controls of F-16 fighters.

The evaluation report reveals, among other things, that after just one demonstration, the pilots were able to land the F-16 fighter in a simulated situation where the aircraft’s engine has stalled. The report states that this is a “relatively technical skill” that F-16 pilots typically have to practice regularly over the course of their careers.

Of greatest concern in the report is that the Ukrainians were not fully conversant with the English language used in the complex electronics of the aircraft. However, the pilots’ language skills are reported to have improved over the course of three weeks.

Less surprising was that the Ukrainians had been trained to use Soviet-era tactics and were unfamiliar with the American standard.

Taking into account the current skill level displayed by Ukrainian Air Force pilots, a realistic training timeline is four months, the report concludes.

According to Yahoo News, the US Air Force’s evaluation report has increased pressure among Ukraine’s Western allies, for example, with US officials saying the F-16 fighter jets are too sophisticated for Ukrainians to learn to fly in time. Are. Therefore, it is assumed that the machines will have no effect during the war.

On Monday, Britain said it would launch a basic training program for Ukrainian pilots over the summer. In training, they were asked to acquire skills that could be applied to flying many different types of aircraft.

“This training runs alongside the UK’s efforts to work with other countries to deliver the F-16,” said a statement issued by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s administration.

Later, France also said that it was ready to train Ukrainian pilots.

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